Bankruptcy Law Questions? Ask a Bankruptcy Lawyer Now.
First, you must have lived in Florida for six months prior to filing bankruptcy in Florida. Then in order to use Florida bankruptcy exemptions you must have been a resident of the state of Florida for the past two years. If you have not lived in Florida for the past two years you must use the exemptions in the State of your last residence, provided you fit into their residency requirements for bankruptcy. The exemptions are what you get to keep in a bankruptcy, and are not subject to being seized by the Trustee to pay back your creditors.
In New Jersey you can elect to take the State exemptions or the Federal exemptions. The Federal exemptions allow a homestead exemption, whereas NJ has no homestead protection at all for real property.
In Florida a settlement or proceeds from a lawsuit are subject to being seized by the Trustee in its entirety, and they are as well if you use the Federal Exemptions.
If you use the New Jersey state exemptions PERSONAL INJURY SETTLEMENTS AND JURY AWARDS-a payment, not to exceed $18,450, on account of personal bodily injury, not including pain and suffering or compensation for actual pecuniary loss, of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is a dependent; orPAYMENTS FOR LOSS OF FUTURE EARNINGS - a payment in compensation of loss of future earnings of the debtor or an individual of whom the debtor is or was a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any dependent of the debtor.
So the $50K award you are going to receive will be seized in part by the Trustee if you file bankruptcy within one year of receiving the settlement. The same goes for a Chapter 7.
Bankruptcy does not discharge
For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you'll need a stable income with disposable income (income left over after you pay the bare necessities of life such as shelter, food and utilities). You must have no more than $922,975 in secured debt (debt involving property that your creditor might take if you don't make your payments) and $307,675 in unsecured debt. These amounts are adjusted periodically to reflect changes in the consumer price index. The court filing fee is $274 in every State.
As for the restructure of your loans, you are going to have to convince the Trustee that you have enough disposable income to make the payment plan you get confirmed. If you want to surrender the homes, you may want to consider a Chapter 7, if you meet the means test. The unsecured debt goes away, and if you are current on your main residence you could reaffirm and keep that house. The other properties you could keep but only if you were current on the payments.
No you do not need to be employed, that is just for a Chapter 13.
Try this site for the means test. There are probably many others, I don't advocate one over the other.....but this should give you an idea.
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